Genetic Improvement of Virginia Pine Christmas Trees

Approximately 10 half-sib families of Virginia pine from 9 different sources located in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee were grown and evaluated after 3 years in a test in north Alabama. Characteristics measured pertinent to Christmas tree production were height, diameter, branches per whorl, needle color, stem straightness and an overall quality rating. There were significant differences among sources, however an extreme amount of variation due to families-within-sources and among trees within each plot was also observed. Estimates of narrow-sense heritabilities ranged from a low of h = 0.10 for branches per whorl to a high of h = 0.35 for needle color. Stem straightness and height were found to be the most important characteristics for an improvement program. Potential genetic gains are presented with selection emphasizing the above two characteristics. Results of this study were compared to the results obtained in 3 similar tests demonstrating the effect of site quality on estimates of heritabilities and genetic gains. Additional keywords: Pinus virginiana, heritability, genetic gain, provenance test.

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Author(s): G. F. Brown, Jr.

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 1987

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